5 Broken Cameras movie poster
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5 Broken Cameras movie poster

5 Broken Cameras Movie Review

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My thought is if you don't want to break so many damn cameras, extract yourself from protests where you're going up against Israeli soldiers. In 5 Broken Cameras, a nominee for Best Documentary Feature at this year's Academy Awards, filmmakers Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi provide an intimate look at what it's like to be a Palestinian on the front lines of Israeli settlement expansion. They break five cameras in the process.

Meaning their cameras are destroyed by fists, bullets and explosions.

Sort of like Bullet to the Head, only more interesting and without Sylvestor Stallone. And not at all similar.

I've made it no secret that I have been disappointed by this lot of documentary contenders. Searching for Sugar Man was entertaining but inconsequential. How to Survive a Plague was well done, but felt 15 years too late in the making. The Invisible War hit upon an important subject, but its execution was unremarkable. I have yet to see The Gatekeepers, which, like 5 Broken Cameras, is about the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Of the four Oscar-nominated documentaries I have seen, 5 Broken Cameras is the most memorable, and the most devastating. Israeli settlement expansion is  something we in America hear about quite often, but what we hear is rarely detailed. While I am open to seeing the Israeli perspective on the matter, 5 Broken Cameras more or less confirms my less-than-positive opinion of Israeli settlers.

To translate, they are bullies that encroach on the land of others with complete disregard for the people already living there.

5 Broken Cameras tells a simple story in a simple way: Burnat and Davidi show what they film, offering basic narration as they demonstrate how Israeli soldiers move across their lands to install new settlements, harassing, threatening and at times killing people along the way. There is nothing sensational about the film's execution because it doesn't need to be. The footage shown in the documentary is  pretty breathtaking at times.

Like the other Oscar nominees this year, 5 Broken Cameras didn't blow me away, but it brings to light - once again - an issue that continues to plague this world. Given its subject matter and front-lines look, 5 Broken Cameras is my personal pick for the shiny golden man.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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